Boulder Startup Week

My first time in Boulder was in 2014 when I traveled to 5 cities in 5 days talking about 43North. It was love at first site, as soon as I got to Pearl Street, and it only got better after that. So this year, when it came time to go out on the 43North roadshow again, I made sure Boulder was at the top of the list and that I visited during Boulder Startup Week. Mission accomplished.

One of the things I did differently this year was I searched though AngelList and looked for startups in the cities I was visiting – Boulder, Denver, and Seattle. One of the benefits of this was I met up with a startup the first day I got into town, ConGo.io, and we ended up hanging out all night during the Boulder Startup Crawl.
The next day I attended the House of Genius event at eTown. It was a great event at a great location, and I’m already working on bringing House of Genius to Buffalo. And the location was awesome – eTown Hall, a solar powered theatre in a renovated church that was rebuilt and just opened in 2012.
From there I headed to SnapEngage for a talk titled How To Fund Your Startup Without Investors. The whole talk I kept thinking to myself how big of an impact the $5 million being invested in the 11 startups through 43North makes. Not just for them but how great it is for the Buffalo Startup Community to have those 11 companies working out of the 43North incubator since it shares space with Z80 Labs and is right next to dig coworking space. To me that’s the best part of Boulder – they have Collision Density*.

I’ve been to Boulder twice and I’ve barely left Pearl Street, and I didn’t need to. Most startups are on Pearl Street or 2-3 streets away on either side. Pearl Street is lined with restaurants, bars, shops, coffee. One of the days I was working out of Ozo coffee, where I had the best coffee I think I’ve ever had, and overheard a few bits and pieces of the conversation happening at the table next to me. It was 2 people explaining their new startup to a potential investor. Sounded like a cool idea from the little bit I heard. I didn’t learn until Friday, when they walked out on stage during Demo Day to give their presentation, that they were one of the Boomtown Startups.

Speaking of Demo day, it was last event I attended and the finale of Boulder Startup Week – Boomtown Demo Day. Boomtown is a relatively new accelerator in Boulder.

Last year when I was in town I met with Co-Director Jose Vieitez and Boomtown was just starting. And of course there’s a Buffalo connection to mention – Shaw Lathrop, who was Director at Scrib co-working space where Boomtown is located, is from Orchard Park, and he’s now with Boomtown as Scrib has been folded into Boomtown . The Demo Day event was awesome – 9 startups presented and I was very impressed with the quality of the presenters, the presentations, and the mentors that introduced the teams – including Alex Bogusky who I’ve been a fan of from his days at Crispin + Bogusky.

I think two things that Buffalo should focus on next for the startup community are building collision density and also adding an accelerator(or two). It’s exciting to see how far the Buffalo startup scene has come in the past few years, and 43North is a big part of that. I’m already looking forward to coming back to Boulder for the 2016 Roadshow.
*Collision Density: as the density of people increases, interactions (collisions) increase. These collisions lead to unplanned idea exchanges, which increases innovation. Referenced from Brand Mother’s post “Turning #buffalo from a #rustbelt city into a #startup city”